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By C. Jayden Smith

The San Clemente City Council on Tuesday, June 7, adopted the city’s $136.1 million budget for Fiscal Year 2022-2023, funding the city’s operations and projecting revenues from July 1 through June 30, 2023.

For FY 2023, the city is projected to receive nearly $76.6 million in General Fund revenue, up $6.1 million from this fiscal year’s adopted budget, and has set spending at $81.2 million, a decrease from the city’s adjusted FY 2022.

During the council’s deliberations, Councilmember Steve Knoblock spoke about wanting to reduce the General Fund balance by $1 million and divert a portion of those funds toward paying down the city’s unfunded pension liability, citing a number of current staff vacancies he did not expect to be filled.

City Manager Erik Sund said such a move would have a negative effect on the services the city provides, would counteract the council’s outlined strategic priorities, and freeze the city’s ongoing recruiting efforts to fill the vacancies. He proscribed that the halt would cause further uncertainty and potential turnover within the staff.

Sund added that the city was already in the midst of positive steps to address the pension liability, and that he had learned from the council in a previous Long-Term Financial Plan meeting to pay down pension funds when savings are available.

“I can tell you, and I know this has been conveyed in multiple reports to the council, that (Financial Services Officer Jake Rahn) and his team have done a great job of identifying savings that’s not a negative impact to the city, and using it to pay down unfunded liability in our CalPERS plans,” said Sund.

Prior to voting to approve the budget, Knoblock proposed a substitute motion based on his idea for the $1 million reduction. That motion, however, failed, with Councilmember Kathy Ward and Mayor Pro Tem Chris Duncan voting against it.

The city’s total operating budget of $136.1 million, is a $9.3 million increase from the previous year, according to the city.

About 79% of the city’s anticipated General Fund revenue will come from tax collections in the upcoming fiscal year. Property taxes, the city’s biggest revenue source, is projected to provide $41 million, a roughly 6.5% rise from the current fiscal year.

Another $13 million in revenue is expected to come from sales taxes, up from the $11.5 million initially projected in this year’s budget.

In terms of spending, more than a quarter of the city’s $81.2 million earmarked in General Fund expenditures—$21.3 million, or about 26.2%—are allocated toward Police Services.

Another $19.2 million (23.6%) will go to Public Works, $14.1 million (17.4%) is earmarked for Fire Services, $8.8 million will fund General Government costs, and $6.3 million is to be spent on Community Development.

C. Jayden Smith

C. Jayden Smith graduated from Dana Hills High in 2018 before pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in digital and broadcast journalism from the University of North Texas. After graduating in December 2020, he reported for the Salina Journal in Salina, Kansas. Jayden loves college football and bothering his black lab named Shadow.

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